Magazine article CRM Magazine

The World Is Their Oyster: Give Customers an Opportunity to Play an Active Role in Customizing Their Customer Service

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The World Is Their Oyster: Give Customers an Opportunity to Play an Active Role in Customizing Their Customer Service

Article excerpt

WHAT WILL IT TAKE to be a high-performing business as the global economy improves? The latest version of an annual Accenture study--surveying more than 5,000 consumers in 12 countries across the Americas, Europe, and Asia/Pacific--offers some insight.

Several trends and economic indicators emerged in the study--some unique to mature or emerging markets and others true globally. Among the stark results: There's no end in sight to the rise in customer service expectations. For instance, 80 percent of consumers surveyed in China said their customer service expectations are higher now than a year ago; 89 percent said they were higher now than five years ago.

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In short, customer service initiatives need to be developed with an understanding that customer expectations are a moving target. Management decisions need to be measured constantly, customized, and refined based on that understanding. Every time a company ups its customer service game, there's another company--either within its sector or in another industry--interacting with that customer, advancing the service agenda, and doing an even better job of satisfying the most-valued customers.

Companies that fail to meet expectations will lose customers. Consumers are increasingly willing to "vote with their feet"--taking that coveted dollar (or yen or rupee or real) elsewhere if they feel their expectations are not being met. Globally, 69 percent of this year's respondents had switched service providers due to poor customer service in the past year, up from 67 percent the year before and 59 percent in 2007. This trend was magnified in developing markets--such as Brazil, China, India, and South Africa--where a remarkable 87 percent said they had recently switched because of bad service.

What does it mean when more than two out of every three customers are lost to CRM-related issues? Consider that, even in this soft economy, "poor customer service" beat out "finding a lower price" as the top reason for switching. This year's survey also revealed a growing polarity in customers' perceptions of good and bad service.

Asked to cite companies providing superior and conversely poor customer service, more than half of the top responses appeared on both lists. …

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